Category Archives: Family

Senior Night and Lessons Learned…

Earlier this month we celebrated Senior Night. It was the last home game where each graduating band member, cheerleader and football player was presented on the field with family while the announcer spoke of their future goals.

This was a very big deal for my senior.

Big brother even flew in for the occasion to surprise him on the field and be at his side. Lan posted on Facebook it was one of his “happiest times!”

Celebrating that moment reminded me of all those years I was so preoccupied with the future I couldn’t enjoy my “present.”

I vividly remember stressing about making it through elementary school and his passing a bunch of standardized exams. The same cloud hung over middle school as well. A less than enthusiastic county psychologist and fear for the future kept me in a constant state of exhaustion.

For any parent, looking forward is natural. Yet, if we are always looking forward to be “done” with a phase, we blind ourselves to our blessings in the here and now.

It took me years to figure this out.

These days, I only need the occasional reminder to enjoy my “here and now.”

I could be stressed now about the upcoming ACT, not knowing for sure which schools are best for Lan, let alone figuring out how to pay for them!

We all go through our “somethings” in life that inevitably have the potential to turn us into better (or bitter) people. To say I’ve appreciated every “growing experience” would be a lie because many of them were quite painful.

Nevertheless, I give thanks that God allowed me to not only survive, but in some manner, thrive beyond those uncertain times.

My current “hot pot” causes me frustration for sure; still, I am determined not to allow my challenges to overcome me as before.

Watching Lan deal with autism and his determination not to be defined by it, has taught me how to better deal with my own frustrations. It has most certainly helped me put them in perspective.

golden-2-devotional-8-6-2016Through Lan, God has taught me how to take joy in small victories, not dismissing them while waiting for larger breakthroughs.

Lan has also taught me that hard work pays off and hard times eventually pass.

I learned goals keep us focused on the gains we strive to make.

I now see God’s grace in the little things.

Every day we “hang in there” is cause for celebration.

Labels only limit us when we allow them.

Angels come in all colors, shapes and sizes.

God is ever-present!

Senior night reminded me of family and friends who have been there for us every step of the way.

That evening also demonstrated the better side of humanity when students in the stands cheered loudly as Lan crossed the field.

I give thanks for teachers, counselors and administrators who worked with us to push Lan toward his very best.

I graduated school decades ago, yet I’ve learned more about God and myself these last years of “high school” than ever before.

I suspect I’m not the only one Lan has taught a thing or two…

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 NIV

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Bee Yourself!

Comparison is the root of discontent.

This is one truth I discovered this last decade or so.

We will never fully appreciate what we have if we always compare ourselves to other people.

My solution for this is to stay focused and run my race.

I watched a great example of this during the Olympics. One of the track and field athletes actually lost his heat because instead of looking forward and pressing toward the finish line, he looked to his left and to his right for the other runners. If he had only focused on the goal ahead, he would have qualified for the next race.

This is something my youngest and I are battling at present.

The topic of ACTs and SATs is popular among seniors. However, test taking has never been Lan’s strong point. His acceptance into a graphics arts/animation program will not be due to high test scores.

Still, listening to his friends has made him anxious. Comparing their plans with his own is causing frustration for both of us!

I have repeatedly told him he doesn’t have to pursue his goals the way others pursue theirs. I’m trying to make him understand this lesson, one that I’ve had to “learn” myself a time or two.

The temptation to compare ourselves with others is always present.  Often in parenting, the opportunities are endless. Yet, this is a dangerous habit because it is so easy to become disenchanted with what you have based on the briefest glimpse into someone else’s life.

bee-still-devotional-8-6-2016When we allow these comparisons to root themselves in us, they often leach away the peace and contentment that God provides.

The infamous “why my child?” easily pops into mind.

God’s answer of “you can handle it” isn’t usually a welcome answer.

We can sometimes allow the progress we make to be diminished by what we perceive around us. However, what we perceive isn’t always true.

I choose to appreciate my here and now, very much aware plenty of people would be more than satisfied with my particular set of “problems.”

I’m trying to teach Lan, by example, to be grateful for gains. Personal “success” is independent of what others think or do!

Lan may not be the most academically strong student; however, he does have an artistic flair all his very own. When we focus on our strengths and not what we think we lack, we can fully fulfill God’s purpose for our lives.

I’ve learned the hard way that what works for someone else isn’t necessarily going to work for me. My “success” in life won’t come following someone else’s blueprint. God gives us what we need to create our own.

I found peace and joy when I nurtured my own talents. I found contentment when I learned to enjoy being me.

I pray Lan learns this lesson far sooner than I ever did.

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well. Psalm 139:13-14 NKJV

May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your purpose. Psalm 20:4 NKJV

God’s Eye…

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:26-27   

  1. Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
    Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heav’n and home,
    When Jesus is my portion? My constant Friend is He:
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

    • Refrain:
      I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
      For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me. 
  2. “Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,  rbn blg 2015
    And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
    Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;
    His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.  

Lyrics by Civilla. Martin, 1905

Christmas Past!

When I received this ornament, I had two kids under the age of two.  My husband’s job kept him gone constantly. I had just started a new job. We had moved cross-country for the second time in less than a year. I was a mental mess!

Worse of all, my father was terminally ill. Daddy would pass away two days before Christmas. My life was out of control.

DSC_0559When I opened the box and saw this ornament, I laughed. It was a very accurate reflection of my life. The kids and I were barely hanging on! This ornament mirrored the haphazard chaos I could not control.

Yet at that same time I had no idea of how many people were praying for me. Many of them I barely knew. God placed it on their hearts to help me in ways I would have never imagined. New co-workers were tremendously kind. Childhood friends provided for me while I was immersed in my grief.

I now view this ornament not as a reminder of when I was barely hanging on but as a symbol of God’s grace. God kept us from falling even as we dangled precariously. It reminds me how God is ever present even when we feel like we can’t hang on.

What I received as a simple gift evolved into a wonderful friendship. Sharon, who gave me the ornament, would become an example for parenting my child. You see, she had already raised a son with special needs. I’m not even sure I was aware of that at the time. Yet, her faith and wonderful attitude would inspire me when I felt drained, lost and thought I couldn’t go on.

God knew who I would need in my time of crisis. My child wouldn’t be diagnosed ASD for another year. Yet, Sharon’s silent fortitude and cheerful smile would later encourage me to keep it together.

God knows who we need and how to connect us to them.

Trust Him.

Christmas could be bittersweet. However I choose not to revisit my grief. Instead, I celebrate the birth in Bethlehem that saves us from the sting of death!

I now look back on Christmas past grateful for what God did then and faith filled for what He will do in the future.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated, “God with us.”  Matthew 1:23 NKJV

Merry Christmas!!

Toy Soldiers!

RCHS BAND 2015 LANDON GODAUTISMANDME 12-2015When I first saw the kids in their band uniforms the first thing that came to mind was toy soldiers. I’ve always been fascinated with them, ever mesmerized by all the Nut Crackers scattered about this time of year. The march of the toy soldiers from the old Disney Classic Babes in Toyland must have really made an impression on me. Somehow toys and life in general seemed a lot simpler then.

Now that I’m a grown up, my “Toy Soldiers” require a lot more than a few turns of a key to keep them going. People always say how parenthood changes you. As a new parent, you nod your head and think defiantly, yeah that’s what you say but none of that will ever apply to me.

Fast forward seventeen years. The children I once thought would never take over my life have inevitably taken over my life. Nearly every decision is made based on its impact on them. My “babes” that were so easily shuttled around and slung on my hip are now at least a foot taller than me and have schedules of their own. Winding them up and letting them go would be easy but life is not like that.

We can’t control our kids. We like to think we can but we really can’t.

Their thoughts are their own. We contribute to their development, but never control it. They are their own unique little beings individually and purposefully made.

Kids can be moody. They have good days and bad just like us. Pleasing their parents isn’t always priority. Children have agendas and interests of their own.  Imagine that!

My children have taught me how to bend without breaking. They have pulled me so far out of my comfort zone I no longer know what that is.  They have shown me how to laugh instead of cry. They have forced me to learn how strong I can be and that my weaknesses don’t weigh me down. They love me with all my imperfections and have taught me how to do the same.

RCHS BAND 2015-16 CamI’ve heard it said God sent His Son to earth not only to save us but to experience every imaginable emotion and pain. I think to some extent our children do that for us. Our kids make us love like we’ve never loved before. They also cause us to pray like we’ve never prayed before.

It would be easier if I could wind them up and they would obey my every command. But what growth would come out of that? For them or me?

In this season of giving, give thanks for the gift of children. Parenting is not easy. At times, it is brutally hard. However, we never have to go it alone. Even when it didn’t feel like it, God was there every step of the way.

God can do the same for you.

Merry Christmas!

Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. Psalm 127:3 NIV

Homecoming!

Unlike Marie who quickly made herself at home in my yard, many of us have a hard time “fitting in.” You don’t have to be on the spectrum to experience this.

I am habitually wary of most new surroundings or people until I eventually “settle in.” It doesn’t usually take that long, but it is long enough for those who don’t know me to find me a bit aloof until I compose myself.

Last week was Homecoming at the boys’ high school. Lan has casually mentioned the dances the last two years but this time he was intent on going.

Freshman year took all of our collective energy to survive.  Slowly, Lan began to thrive sophomore year. He made great gains, yet for those two years Lan was more of a spectator than a participant.

This year Lan’s participation in marching band has upped his confidence. He is no longer afraid of the upperclassmen since he now one of them. He wants to mingle and socialize more.

Our question for him was, “Are you mature enough to go to the dance?”

He quickly assured us he was.

The hubby and I had to think on it for a bit.

Bullying is no longer a worry, nonetheless, I’m remiss to put my child and his enthusiasm into any situation where he can be taken advantage of or become someone else’s entertainment.

Thankfully, big brother was also going. It was now or never. I’m sure Lan was forced to listen to fifteen minutes of dos and don’ts as my oldest drove them the short ride there.

I was nervous but Lan won’t learn how to interact in various social situations if we never give him the chance.

The older the kids become, the more I realize I can’t keep them in a safe bubble, as tempting as that may be. It would only do them a disservice and keep them from becoming all they can be.

Anxiously waiting, I finally heard the garage door go up and both boys came rushing in. I asked Lan if he was mature while he was there.

He gave me a sly grin and nodded. Then added, “Most of the time. I kinda of got a little crazy at the end.”

The oldest child/third parent quickly chimed in, “probably something to do with the dance circles he instigated.”

Dance circles? Do I even want to know?

Lan behaved himself well enough to satisfy big brother.

And I was very happy for him.

Lan has progressed beyond looking in from the outside to becoming an active participant in high school. He has overcome his fears and gained confidence in what he can do.

This year Lan feels like he belongs.

Isn’t that what most of us want? To belong somewhere?

Anyplace that is safe, familiar and you can take pride in evokes feelings of home.

Marie homecoming Godautismandme devotionalIt may not happen for us as quickly as it did for Marie, but it can happen.

When we allow faith to fill us instead of fear, we can be “home” no matter where we are.

The curse of the Lord is on the house of the wicked, But He blesses the home of the just. Proverbs 3:33 NKJV

Take A Break!

Even busy bees need a break.

Take a break featured photo 2 God autism and me 10-2015 devotionalI found this bee napping in my flower pot. He was very much alive, just resting.

We had a chance to rest this past week as my kids enjoyed their Fall Break. And I must admit, I enjoyed it too!

The break relieved me and my husband from our normal sleuthing duties of determining if there is homework, has the homework been done, and you have how many exams this week?!

There was no morning rush to get out of the house on time and with everything essential.

Staying up late to finish homework?  Didn’t miss that either. Band practices that linger into the night?

Pleasantly absent.

Lan enjoyed his “vacation.” He could always study more for sure but at a certain point enough is enough.

The progress report he will receive upon returning to school Tuesday isn’t half bad. It’s not exceptional, but at this point “not bad” is great!

You see, this is a year to“stretch” for Landon. He is accountable for much more such as harder classes, band competitions, the practices that go with them, in addition to those other things we are trying to impart in him to make him more mature and self-reliant.

As he watches his older brother prepare college applications, Lan is increasingly giving thought to his future. He has made it very clear on many occasions he doesn’t plan on living with me and my husband.

We’ve told him that goal will take maturity, growth and much effort on his part. His response has been to act more mature and look at a larger picture he’s never bothered to view before. Trying to get him to this goal has put us all in a whirlwind it seems.

Yet, sometimes when so much is required of us and it feels like everything is swirling around in every direction, the only way to get on top is to stop.

Stop running.

Stop worrying.

Stop relying solely on our own abilities.

We can’t continuously go, go, go if we don’t take time to recoup and recharge.

We often push our loved ones so they can do more and be more but those efforts must be balanced.

BALANCING ACT BLESSED DEVOTIONAL 9-2015There have been times in my life were I wasn’t balanced at all. My sense of urgency didn’t move Lan any farther ahead. In fact, it was when I finally relinquished the control I “thought” I had that we both made huge gains for the better.

So if you haven’t been given a break, take one.

When our final days do come, I doubt any of us will wish we spent more time running around like crazy people trying to meet arbitrary goals dictated by people we will never meet.

Instead, take time to appreciate the color of fall leaves.

Live in moments of laughter.

Cast your cares.

Be still.

Rest.

Follow God’s example. If He took time to rest, we should too!

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Genesis 2:2 NKJV